Elephant Planet - Elephant Emoji

Elephant Planet – Elephant Emoji

With 50+ album offers arriving each week at TPA, there’s simply never enough time to listen to all of them, so quite often it’s just a phrase or the suggested ‘genre tags’ that sparks the initial: ‘take a listen’, or ‘pass’. Now as one who likes the music complex, then ‘Math’ ( oops lost a few there 🙂 ) is one tag that attracts. Next step then, check out the Bandcamp page, or a video. And even then it’s not always plain sailing…

So… to the album in hand: “Progressive/Math Rock” | “Hard progressive pop-rock-jazz”.

Over to Bandcamp we go and the brief instrumental opener, introduction, is part orchestral, part ambient and does what it says, introduces the album. Track two, you and i, is the fourth single to be released by the band. Aah vocals… and they are straight in! The good news is vocalist J.P. Aguilera can actually sing, so no grunts and growls here. In fact he has an extremely engaging voice, with a strong sense of melody & harmony, and it’s immediately obvious from bar one of the song. Certainly not what I was anticipating, although it does bring that ‘pop’ element to the forefront. you and i is an radio friendly track, with a nice clean motif on the guitar and when the chorus kicks in, we are rocking. As a possible pointer, and in the choruses, I’m fleetingly minded of Thank You Scientist and in particular Salvatore Marrano.

Now as the gentle guitar arpeggios of track three, dream, enter the headphones I’m beginning to question some of those genre tags. Don’t get me wrong the songs across the album are cleverly written, the arrangements are interesting and certainly not without complexity. So time to cast out those preconceived notions and listen to what Elephant Planet have to say.

So back to dream which is slick, stylish and polished with J.P. Aguilera’s vocals gliding effortlessly across the busy, rhythmic arrangement. Perhaps a little too glossy for my tastes, however love the pick-up’s into the heavier, once again, immensely catchy choruses. The track also features the first noticeable guitar break. The opening instrumental section of silence is more in keeping with my initial thoughts. A clean hammered-on guitar riff, quickly followed by a heavier version of the riff and with the rhythm section ripping it up. From then on silence wends its way through a number of stylistic mood shifts, with the adhesive being the vocals…

OK… you’re probably getting the picture by now, so who are Elephant Planet? Hailing from Austria’s capital, Vienna, and it would appear Elephant Planet centres around vocalist and multi-instrumentalist J.P. Aguilera and guitarist Alexander Hausstein. I couldn’t find credits for the musicians on the album, but certainly in the live setting Danylo Dmyterko on drums and Victor Gabriel on bass form a formidable rhythm section. There’s also a few guest musicians appearing on various tracks. The music constituting Elephant Emoji was written between 2018-2021, recorded between 2020-2021 and released in June 2023.

Returning to the album and a déjà vu moment, turns out the end of time was the first track I heard from the album. It’s a snappy upbeat song, opening with the requisite intricate guitar riff supported by a kicking rhythm section. Clocking in at just under five minutes, once again, the band deliver their distinct brand of infectious and well crafted, melodic rock…

As the end of time comes to an abrupt halt, it is safe to say the Elephant Planet signature sound is established. Three tracks remain and it is at this point where the Elephants take bigger strides. rain initially takes proceedings down before the band use a longer running time to extend their musical palette. Standing tall here is a great instrumental section – Alexander Hausstein kicks it off with some tasty fretwork, followed by an oddly metered, electric piano/band interlude. It’s a super section that raises the progressive and jazz banners. Following a ‘waltzy’ intro the beefy sand brings a more experimental vibe to the table, musically and vocally. J.P. Aguilera’s polyphonous vocals once again capture the limelight.

It is perhaps left to the closing track, home, for the most ambitious arrangement. The longest song on the album, at seven minutes, brings together those now well established tropes, however the floaty flute of Agnes Bishof, combined with Lilian Haustein on violin, brings a new textures to the sound and one that sits very comfortably within the ever evolving arrangement…

So Elephant Emoji turned out to be a diverse and refreshing discovery. Complex driving rock, chock full of ideas and thoughtfully arranged, allowing the songs space to breathe. Harmonically pleasing on the ears and J.P. Aguilera’s vocals are sweet and delightful. Elephant Planet have therefore more than delivered on their “hard progressive pop-rock-jazz” aphorism.

01. introduction (1:30)
02. you and i (3:43)
03. dream (5:42)
04. silence (5:12)
05. the end of time (4:46)
06. rain (6:52)
07. sand (5:43)
08. home (7:00)

Total Time – 41:28

J.P. Aguilera – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards, Bass
Alexander Hausstein – Guitar
Danylo Dmyterko – Drums
Victor Gabriel – Bass
Agnes Bishof – Flute
Lilian Haustein – Violin

Record Label: Independent
Country of Origin: Austria
Date of Release: 16th June 2023

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